How to Get Involved in College
There is more to the college experience than class and partying. College campuses offer endless opportunities to get involved: develope your network, discover and practice your passions, build your resume, and make the most of your undergraduate experience. You will find that your extracurricular involvements will be fun and rewarding in so many ways, and branching out can shape not only your four years in college but can mold your character, skills, and interest for years to come. Simply having a degree will not give you the edge that you need to succeed in the world, it is crucial to have substantial experience, networks and skills under your belt.
Being part of something that you care about can make you feel a part of the community and can make a big university seem like a small tight-knit group. Getting involved in college could help you cultivate life long friendships, develop mentors and connections, and help you grow as an individual. You may even realize what you what to do with your life along the way. Spending every weeknight watching Netflix with your roommates (or even studying…find a balance!) and every Saturday and Sunday morning hungover is not conducive to the future that you should be building in college
1) Discover and practice your passion. It’s okay to have an undecided major at the beginning of college. If anything it can lead you to explore a variety of different possible interests, from psychology to business to international studies. The easiest way to get involved is to join clubs related to your major, or just fields that you are interested in. These clubs can host interesting speakers and provide resources (study buddies, advice on taking grad school entrance exams, discussion of possible career paths).
2) Get involved with your career center. If your school has a career center, then you should be on the lookout for seminars and networking events. Events can range from how to prepare for an interview (and can even let you practice your skills with mock interviews) to resume and cover letter writing, both vital tips even as a freshman because you will want to secure internships.
3) Go Greek. If your college offers Greek life, then I would highly recommend exploring this option. Greek organizations can give you an almost unparalleled networking opportunity as you will meet so many people in all years, as well as advisers who can serve as mentors, references, and contacts as an alumni. You will always have something to do as a member of a Greek organization, and many people find that being busy and having an active calendar helps them more efficiently organize their time and be more productive. As a sorority alumni, I will say that the majority of Greek events are social in nature (mixers, date functions, sisterhood events, formals), but this is in no way not valuable to your long-term success! Besides having a great time and creating lots of memories with your friends, you will be networking and creating contacts that you will find invaluable in the future.
There is also a considerable amount of community service and philanthropy that is at the heart of Greek life. Whether it be The Ronald McDonald House or breast cancer research, the contributions of Greek members is significant. Every Greek member actively supports the community with participation in philanthropy events and community service activities which is valuable on its own and also as a learning experience to gain working knowledge of non-profits and the intricacies of working on a team. Especially if you take on leadership roles, you will learn invaluable skills such as team building, event planning, management, and being comfortable with public speaking and talking to anyone. You can even relate your sorority leadership experience with your major, such as being a financial officer if you are interested in business or being the PR Chair if you are interested in public relations.
4) Attend school-sponsored events. They don’t have to be lame, really. Grab a couple friends (or go alone and meet people!) and attend a pep rally, student government event, or school-sponsored social event. You’ll get the opportunity to meet student leaders, learn more about available opportunities, and have fun! At every school, whether business or arts & sciences, there are speaker events where experts in the field give a lecture. These are very valuable to your education, and are often particularly interesting if you are still developing your game plan/major in college and am not yet sure which field you want to go into. Get involved by asking questions, meeting people, joining relevant organizations and taking a proactive approach by not only attending and listening but following up and engaging.
5) Join groups/clubs/organizations that interest you. If you played a sport in high school, you don’t have to lay down those field hockey sticks forever. Join an intramural sports team, or get involved in intramural in Greek life. If you sang or played an instrument, join an A Capella group or ensemble. If you were involved in theater, then join a collegiate theater or improvisational theater group. You can discover a passion or interest that you never knew that you had, simply by exploring the opportunities that are available to you in college: many universities have over 200 campus clubs and organizations from scuba diving to community service clubs. If you love Bikram yoga or crossfit and there is currently no club out there for it, then join your own! Typically you only need a set number of signatures and email addresses for you to be able to form a club. Some organizations that may give you especially valuable experience include groups related to academic programs, debate team, mock trial, Model UN, student government, and cultural organizations.
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